Trump Kim summit: U.S. and North Korean leaders hold historic talks

Trump Kim summit: U.S. and North Korean leaders hold historic talks

The meeting is the first sit-down between a sitting USA president and North Korean leader and is meant to settle a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Having aides present in meetings with adversaries is regarded as a way of providing a president with protection, as it prevents remarks from being misinterpreted. But on Monday evening, the White House announced Trump would depart for Washington by 8 p.m. Tuesday evening in Singapore, leaving little time for follow-up.

In the run-up to Tuesday's historic face-to-face with Kim, Trump has appeared unconcerned about the implications of feting an authoritarian leader suspected of ordering the public assassination of his half brother with a nerve agent, executing his uncle by firing squad and presiding over a notorious gulag estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.

Trump and Kim - both intent on making history - greeted each other early in the day with extended hands in front of a row of U.S. and North Korean flags, a previously unthinkable sight that reflects a new chapter in the two countries' acrimonious relationship.

Kim was not believed to have left his hotel since a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong soon after his arrival in the city on Sunday, but he ventured out on Monday evening.

But some question why Kim should trust any guarantees given Trump's history of pulling out of accords - most recently the painstakingly negotiated Iran nuclear deal. If he resumes talking about his "maximum pressure" campaign to squeeze Kim's regime, he said last week, "you'll know the negotiation did not do well".

The agreement quickly broke down when the U.S. froze assets belonging to Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, which was suspected of laundering millions of dollars for the North Korean regime. Carrying with them hopes to end seven decades of hostility and the threat of a nuclear confrontation, the meeting between the two firebrand leaders will be watched closely by people across the world.

Alluding to the North's concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the US was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with "sufficient certainty" that denuclearization "is not something that ends badly for them". Mr Kim is reported to be flying out even earlier, at 14:00 local time (6pm NZT).

At one point, Trump suggested to reporters the talks could extend to a second or even a third day if they were going well. The official cautioned, however, that the schedule could always change if meeting goes well and there is more to discuss.


North Korea has said it is willing to commit to denuclearisation, but it is unclear how this will be achieved or what might be requested in return.

"We're prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization isn't something that ends badly for them - indeed, just the opposite, that it leads to a better, brighter future for the North Korean people", Pompeo told reporters Monday.

Experts are sceptical. At best, the meeting will likely provide a road map for future talks, each round of which will require hard and complex negotiations.

Still, the United States is not expecting a final deal in Singapore.

Pompeo, who led the outreach as Central Intelligence Agency director, traveled twice to North Korea for preliminary talks.

More than 2,500 journalists have convened here, with each leader's every movement tracked carefully.

Kim is a departmental director at North Korea's United Front Department, the Workers' Party organization that handles inter-Korean relations.

Flanked by bodyguards, Kim also visited the Marina Bay Sands resort. It's the first ever such summit between the heads of the two countries.

Huge concerns have been raised over the talks between the two leaders, which will take place 15 minutes after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meet for the first time.

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